According to officials responsible for formulating policy and implementing the directive, future government employment security clearance investigations will include a search of social media content. Applicants will not be asked for passwords and investigators will not log into (or break into) accounts. Investigators will seek to identify the range of an individual’s public content, looking for information that might raise red flags and adversely affect a decision to give a person a security clearance.
While most kids carefully follow the rules that parents and teachers set out — no names, addresses, telephone numbers, or other personal information — when it comes to the big privacy picture, it turns out that many children understand very little about their personal data, how it accumulates, and how it affects privacy. (Check out my privacy links at the end of this post.)
Thus we need an alternate privacy teaching strategy that helps 21st Century kids — all ages really — understand how their digital-world data accumulates — even when users observe the all-important safety rules.
Just what can our Internet activity tell about us, and who can find the information? What do we unintentionally share? We tell our children not to share specifics kinds of personal information, but much of that information is somewhere — in the digital ether — a result of our various digital footprints, searches, apps settings, and smartphone connections, and waiting to be discovered.
Given the news about the massive amount of data collected by the National Security Agency, NPR reporter Steve Henn set out to find out how much of our data “seeps” out, potentially allowing others to learn all kinds of personal information about a person. Henn used himself as a test subject.
I often hear people of all ages, including children, say, “It doesn’t matter that my digital information is collected because I have nothing to hide.” What bothers me most about this comment is the limited understanding that it demonstrates — a lack of knowledge about how fast the traditional walls of privacy are tumbling down and how little of it has to do with the bad things that people do.
People who make the comment usually know little about what happens to collected digital data, most of it documenting everything we do in our daily digital lives and almost none of it destined to identify wrongdoings or help to find “bad guys.” So much data is now collected about each of us in so many different ways, that almost nothing about us cannot be found out.
Our phones document where we go, our cars move through intersections with mounted cameras that note our license plates, the grocery stores keep track of the foods we prefer, and our Internet searches document the things we want to do, what we want to purchase, and often our worries about how to solve certain problems. Our data even document our medical conditions (despite physicians and insurance companies complying obsessively with HIPPA privacy rules) as we go about checking on symptoms and prescription side effects, or merely try to learn more.
This graph from the Poneman Institute’s report, 2012 Most Trusted Companies for Privacy (PDF) depicts the seven-year trends about people’s views about their control over personal information and the importance of privacy.
Facebook has tossed out another challenge to family members, including grandparents, who seek to maintain privacy while still enjoying the social interaction that the social network offers.
Here we go again with facial recognition.
Find instructions for disabling the new Facebook facial feature at the BBC blog, WebWise: A Beginner’s Guide to Using the Internet. I’ve compiled the basic steps after reading a number of posts about the new facial recognition addition, but read the whole BBC post for the simplest and most comprehensive explanation.
Go to Account.
Go to Privacy Settings.
Click on Customize Settings (itty-bitty blue link at the bottom).
Find the category, Things Others Share.
Find the words Suggest photos of me to friends and click the edit settings button.
Naturally…Facebook’s default has enabled the feature so you want to click on the button that disables the feature.
For sometime now I’ve considered writing a post on the problems with web surveys and quizzes. These tricky techniques use old-fashioned fun, emulating the magazine quiz features of the past and encouraging web users to happily divulge all sorts of personal information. Each of these activities is a small privacy invader using a “have fun and learn more” guise.